Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

New Pr.. Dec. 2019. 224p. notes. ISBN 9781620974209. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781620974216. POL SCI
“Imprisonment is a chosen policy approach,” says Hernández, law professor at the University of Denver, in this debut. “Chosen” is the key word: Who first chose to jail newcomers, and when did it become policy? Hernández has answers. After the Revolutionary War, when immigrants were no longer consistently Anglo, immigrants have been detained in unlivable conditions and prosecuted under unfair contexts. Hernández describes Chinese immigrants locked up on San Francisco’s docks, and Cuban and Haitian arrivals held in Miami. Their detainment illuminates how the prison epidemic on the U.S.–Mexico border has been a long time coming. Hernández is careful to point out that the country originally had no detention centers. Once readers understand that the United States began with free and open borders, perhaps they can also see a future in which America (once again) does not detain newcomers. Today, imprisonment is entwined with immigration policy. We must abolish immigration detention, ICE, and prisons in general, Hernández argues, but we can’t stop there. Solutions thinking is imperative to abolition thinking, he concludes. What will replace the prison?
VERDICT A thought-provoking perspective on immigration and U.S. immigration policy.
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